While completing his doctoral thesis, Dr. med. Patrick Kugelmeier focused on cell transplantation and the differentiation of stem cells. In doing so, he realised that one of the main problems of working with stem cells is reproducibility. However, this is a prerequisite for any medical application. So the clinical need for a platform which combined stem cell biology with cell transplantation became increasingly clear. His solution was the development of the Sphericalplate 5D platform, which allows standardised 3D cell cultures with spheroids of homogeneous size all the way to clinical application.
It enables regular clustering in 3D format and up to 9'000 spheroids on one plate. With a special nano-coating and a patented rounded geometry, the plate is designed for applications in many areas, such as cell transplantation, future stem cell therapies and tumour research. Simple handling and low acquisition costs are two further advantages of this cell culture innovation.
We wanted to ask Mr. Kugelmeier one or two more questions:
Why should users adopt the Sphericalplate 5D rather than simply continuing to use hydrogel systems?
Hydrogel systems have their place and are indispensable for basic research. However, scaling up to medical applications with the corresponding handling and safety requirements becomes difficult with pure hydrogel. The advantage of the Sphericalplate 5D, in addition to the controlled mechanobiology and the unlimited amount of highly standardised spheroids, is that, if hydrogels are needed, you still have the option to use them on the spherical plate or in combination with it.
In cancer research, the problem of the lack of oxygen supply in the spheroid centre and the resulting necrosis is often dismissed as physiological – since necrosis also occurs in natural tumours. What is your opinion?
Thanks for that question. This is one of THE central concerns in tumour research, stem cell biology and cell transplantation. A deeper understanding of this issue opens big doors to the future of medicine. To list all the factors and relationships involved here would go beyond the scope of this interview. But the scientific evidence alone that extremely low-oxygen tumours are among the most dangerous, that most cancers probably arise from stem cells, that stem cells are also programmed by oxygen tension, and that oxygen deprivation is one of the primary determinants as to whether a cell transplant works or not, shows the importance of this topic.
Plates with rounded bottoms and cell-repellent surface treatments, which are also supposed to promote 3D formation, already exist on the commercial market. So why should I use your plate?
Because of the controlled mechanobiology and the option to use the platform for any further downstream applications, other plates with rounded bottoms are not really round from the cell perspective; these are simply large surfaces which are slightly curved. This disrupts the smooth formation of spheroids. Cells which are supposed to form a group in spheroid form have completely different requirements. For various reasons of cell-to-cell communication, they need support, but at the same time must not be restricted. It’s a prerequisite for correct cell development, and thus functionality, that this process develops undisturbed. How sensitively nature has set up cell development and programming is a topic which will become incredibly exciting over the next few years. Thus our plate should be the first choice when it comes to highly accurate data and subsequent medical applications.
I work with spheroids and so far have not placed any particular value or emphasis on homogeneous size and reproducible cluster formation. So should I question my results? And if so, what questions should I ask?
This is not surprising, because up until now this topic has not been given enough importance in education, simply because no one knew about it. So yes, the results have to be questioned. The literature on this topic is growing exponentially and a look in PubMed with its questions about the biology of development, 3D cell culture in the form of spheroids/clusters, and stem cell programming, shows that this is a key research and medicine topic for the future.
Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) is a crucial factor affecting the transcription process. Can the Sphericalplate 5D remedy this?
Yes. A remedy in the sense that Sphericalplate 5D creates absolutely controlled conditions which no longer leave this process to chance. Thus you can work out the key conditions using your own questions so that your own experiments have a higher chance of successful realisation. We are available for a discussion about specific questions and experimental conditions.